Zika Virus: What You Need to Know

Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.

With the announcement of confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the United States, it is natural for people to be concerned. Here is information to help you be better informed about the mosquito-borne virus.

Dr. Glenn Wortmann, chief of Infectious Diseases at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, says this isn’t a virus that kills, and risks are minimal, but the suspected link between the virus and a serious birth defect called microcephaly has federal health officials on alert. Dr. Wortmann discusses the symptoms and treatment for Zika with WJLA-TV, Channel 7. http://wjla.com/news/local/virginia-traveler-tests-positive-for-zika-virus

Key Facts

  • Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • People with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash (exanthema) and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
  • There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
  • The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
  • The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the mosquito-borne Zika virus is ‘spreading explosively’ in the Americas and could infect as many as three to four million people within 12 months. Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. It’s too early to tell if the mosquitoes will make their way to the United States this summer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has 31 confirmed cases in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The agency says all of the reported cases are travel-related, and the CDC is urging pregnant women to postpone their travels to areas where the Zika virus has spread.

Learn more about the Zika virus and get further guidance, such as mosquito bite prevention, from the CDC here: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html

Mosquito Control

While it is not mosquito season in the majority of the United States, it is helpful to remember these mosquito control tips:

  • Eliminate standing water in and around your home and tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs. For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps, cover open vent or plumbing pipes and use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your home with screens on windows and doors without any large holes. Use air conditioning when available.

Bookmark www.medstarwashington.org/CenterView to return for additional updates as they become available.

Have Any Questions?

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